Title: What Father Christmas Left
Author: Felicitas Ivey
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages/Word Count: 45 Pages
Rating: 4 Stars
Blurb: Ex-Pat American Jacob Moore is looking forward to hosting his traditional Christmas Eve party with his partner, Errol. They love the quiet night of friends and food at their house in London, and the break before dealing with family, presents, and Boxing Day. The quiet is shattered when Jacob’s younger half sister, Pru, shows up on his doorstep, running away from home for a very good reason. Jacob has stayed in touch with her over the years, even though he’s estranged from their father. But nothing prepared him for this.
Now he has to decide what to do with this unexpected package from Father Christmas.
A story from the Dreamspinner Press 2014 Advent Calendar package “Celebrate!”.
Review: Felicitas Ivey puts as much heart in this year’s What Father Christmas Left as she did imagination in last year’s A Solstice Journey. Rather than the fantasy she created in “Solstice”, however, the surprise in “Father Christmas” is that this story is not a romance. The author doesn’t focus on the relationship between Jacob and Errol, but that doesn’t mean the deep and unwavering love they have for each other isn’t there and clear for the reader to see. These two men have been together for years and are happy and settled, which puts them in good position for Jacob’s half-sister Prudence’s unexpected arrival on their doorstep.
The focus of this story is family connections, or, rather, the lack of them. There’s a fifteen year age difference between Jacob and Pru, and they share a father who is self-absorbed and negligent, among other character flaws. Both their father and Pru’s mother are poor excuses for parents. I loved Jacob and Pru instantly, and loved how these two near total strangers reached out to each other. Jacob is just the sort of big brother every little sister could only be so lucky to have, and when Errol entered the picture, I wanted nothing more than for the three of them to make their own family.
There are a handful or so of walk-on characters in the story, some who serve as set dressing at Errol and Jacob’s annual holiday party, others who are there to advance Jacob and Pru’s story. Their father doesn’t say more than a few sentences in the whole book, but it doesn’t take much to realize he’s not worthy of the kids he donated his sperm to create. In this case his actions speak loudest, and he’s just so easy to loathe.
I have to admit I was surprised by this story. It’s natural to expect a traditional holiday romance in Dreamspinner’s Advent anthology, but What Father Christmas Left is a sweet and touching detour from the norm. I liked the direction Felicitas Ivey took here, loved Jacob, Errol and Pru, and basked in the sense of comfort and joy within the pages of this novelette. It might not be a story that satisfies your need for romance, but it will surely warm your heart nonetheless.
You can buy What Father Christmas Left here: